No Fashion Degree? How to Be a High-End Designer with No School

MakersValley Blog | No Fashion Degree? How to Become a High-End Designer with No School
Amulya Agrawal

Amulya Agrawal

Some believe that the only way to achieve skills and success in fashion design is through a formal education with a degree from a fashion school. However, you might be surprised to know that’s not the only way. In fact, many successful fashion designers, including Giorgio Armani and Alexander Wang, did not attend a formal fashion institution. Continue reading to learn how you can conquer the fashion world in a limited amount of time, with no formal, expensive program.

Find Educated Individuals with a Formal Fashion Background


In order to conquer the fashion world as a designer, it is important to know all the insider strategies and secrets to success. Finding a fashion mentor to offer guidance and support can be incredibly helpful to designers completing the beginning portion of the marathon. An experienced fashion mentor who has had formal training or practical experience in fashion can provide you with innovative strategies to make your designed apparel stand out from the rest.

Once you are ready to look for your fashion mentor, you can start by cold-emailing and contacting manufacturers, designers, design professors, and anyone in the fashion field. Strategically, it is best to keep your message to 3-5 sentences in length -- brief and to the point. When messages are very long, your contact may quickly skim over the message or even ignore it.

Network with Established Fashion Designers and Retailers to Set Your Foot in the Door


One of the best ways to gain more exposure and find stores to display your designs is through connecting with established designers and brands in the fashion industry. Don’t be afraid to contact designers and brands through platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and by email. By contacting them with a brief message conveying your curiosity, they may be willing to set up a phone call or answer your questions through messaging. It could be helpful to you, as a designer, to ask about their experiences and see if they can connect you with others working in similar areas.

Another great way to connect with designers is by joining online fashion communities, which can range from general groups to groups with specific fashion concentrations, such as those focusing on plus size influencers or black fashion influencers.. Through these platforms, other designers can share their mistakes and solutions, which can help you, as a designer, figure out ways to make significant strides in a short amount of time. Platforms such as StartUp Fashion and fashion designer groups on Facebook can be amazing resources to learn from others’ experiences, form a community, and generate results in a short amount of time.

Gain a Basic Knowledge of Digital Fashion Design Platforms


Technology’s role in life and every kind of work grows exponentially on an almost daily basis, particularly since COVID-19 transformed 2020. Now more than ever, it’s important to develop basic knowledge on how to use computer-aided design software programs like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Platforms like these offer easy-to-use tools that up and coming fashion designers, whether or not they’ve attended fashion school, can easily use to create their designs.

For an insider look at how to conquer using both of these platforms, check out the Fashion and Textile Design with Photoshop and Illustrator book from Amazon or your favorite small online bookstore.

Study Past and Present Fashion Trends


Perhaps the most important skill that every emerging designer needs is a strong knowledge of past and present fashion trends. By learning from iconic styles in the past and present, you will gain a better understanding about how to make your designs stand out while still respecting classic and iconic styles. This will allow you to strategize how to evoke certain emotional responses to garments through your designs.

Take the time to read fashion magazines, visit fashion art galleries, and read blog posts on MakersValley to keep up with these styles and trends. These are invaluable resources for gaining a better understanding about the fashion industry as a whole, even when you don’t come from a formal design background.


Need more resources?

Check out some useful e-books for starting your fashion line and brand!

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